Offseason Outlook: Washington Wizards

Guaranteed Contracts


Non-Guaranteed Contracts

  • None

Free Agents / Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (3rd overall)
  • 2nd Round (38th overall)
  • 2nd Round (54th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $34,850,7391
  • Options: $22,214,7801
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $0
  • Cap Holds: $12,961,150
  • Total: $70,026,669

The Wizards' hopes of contending for a playoff spot in 2012/13 were derailed early by injuries to John Wall and Nene, as the team started off the season with a dismal 4-28 run. Washington also closed out the season with six straight losses, but in between those two portions of the schedule, the team showed there was some reason for optimism going forward, posting a 25-19 record. In 2013/14, the Wizards will be looking to take the next step and earn a postseason berth for the first time since '07/08.

Had the Wizards known that '12/13 would essentially be a lost season, it likely would have had a significant impact on a decision they made last summer, when they dealt Rashard Lewis to the Pelicans in a trade that netted them Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Turning Lewis' huge expiring contract into a pair of pricey multiyear deals was supposed to help Washington contend in the East right away — the Wizards acknowledged it would eliminate potential cap space for the summer of 2013, but they felt Okaford and Ariza were worthwhile, if slightly overpriced, additions.

Not everyone bought that argument at the time, and it looks even more tenuous now. Okafor and Ariza are both certain to opt in for next season, adding another $22MM+ to the team's books and effectively eliminating any potential cap space that could have been had. If the Wizards had simply allowed Lewis' contract to expire, or perhaps bought him out last season, the club would currently have $38MM+ committed to eight roster spots, including the third overall pick. That would have meant having close to $20MM to spend in free agency or on trades, and you'd have to think Washington could have found a better way to use that money than on Okafor and Ariza, who were solid but unspectacular during their first season with the Wizards.

Still, what's done is done, and even with the veteran duo in the mix, the Wizards should still have the full mid-level exception at its disposal to add another contributor. Given the number of young forwards already under contract, Washington's ideal target may be a third guard to complement Wall and Bradley Beal. A veteran who can play both backcourt positions would be a nice fit for Washington — perhaps someone like Devin Harris or Jerryd Bayless, if he opts out of his deal with the Grizzlies. A center to back up Okafor could also be considered, but the free agent market for centers this summer isn't teeming with a ton of viable options for the Wiz. A player like Samuel Dalembert or Nazr Mohammed could be a decent target, but I wouldn't be surprised if Washington just signs a minimum-salary player or two to shore up its depth in the middle.

Although the Wizards could also pursue a small forward with their mid-level exception, I'm operating under the assumption that Alex Lee of Hoops Rumors is, predicting that Washington will target and land Otto Porter, the top small forward in the draft. The Wizards are said to be prioritizing Porter and Anthony Bennett, both of whom should still be on the board when the team picks at No. 3. Either player would be a great choice, but I'll give the slight edge to Porter, who could be a long-term fixture in Washington alongside Wall and Beal.

Speaking of Wall and the long-term, the former first overall pick will be extension-eligible for the first time this offseason. Washington will have the option of extending Wall before Halloween or seeing him become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2014, and I'd be surprised if the team doesn't opt for the former. A maximum-salary deal is likely, but it will be interesting to see whether the Wizards are willing to make Wall their designated player, locking him up for five more years rather than four.

As we saw when the Timberwolves negotiated an extension with Kevin Love, sometimes teams with two young potential stars will decide to save that designated player tag for the younger player (in Minnesota's case, Ricky Rubio). Beal looks like a star in the making, and it's possible Washington wants to save its five-year extension for him, but I don't think that's likely. Since drafting Wall first overall back in 2010, the Wizards have talked about keeping him in Washington long-term and building around him. I expect we'll see the team back up those words this summer.

Will Wall make a fourth-year leap and become one of the NBA's elite? Will Beal's star continue to rise? Will Nene stay healthy? Will the Wizards be able to land a free-agent contributor or two? Did Jan Vesely's NBA career peak on 2011 draft night? There are plenty of questions that must be answered before we know whether Washington will become a playoff team in the East. But Wall and Beal look like the real deal to me, and the team figures to add another promising young piece in next week's draft. The Wizards are a club on the rise, and a few smart moves this summer could make them a legit sleeper for 2013/14.

Additional notes:

  • Of the Wizards players hitting free agency this summer, Martell Webster looks like the one most likely to return. There's mutual interest in a new deal for Webster, and Wall and Beal are the only guards under contract for next season, so Webster could slot in nicely as a backup at the two.
  • While they won't receive the same attention that Wall will, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker are also eligible for rookie-scale extensions this offseason. I'd be surprised if we saw either player extended by the Wizards, but it's a possibility.
  • In addition to the No. 3 pick, the Wizards also hold a pair of second-round picks. The team has been working out several NCAA and international players, so it seems one or both of those second-rounders will be used.

Cap footnotes:

  1. At least one report has indicated Okafor and Ariza will opt in for 2013/14, which had been expected. When it becomes official, the Wizards' guaranteed salary will increase to $57,065,519 without factoring in cap holds.
  2. $1,106,099 is the amount of Temple's potential qualifying offer. If the Wizards don't extend a QO, Temple's cap hold will be reduced to $884,293.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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